This image shows a colorful bloom of phytoplankton in the Black Sea on June 4, 2008, along the southern coast near the Turkish cities of Sinop and Samsun. The natural-color image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer modis.gsfc.nasa.gov (MODIS) on NASA's aqua.nasa.gov Aqua satellite. Loops and swirls of blooming phytoplankton follow the coastline, while farther out in the open waters (upper right), the blooms become more spread out. The greenish plumes hugging the coast from Sinop westward to just beyond Samsun may be river plumes. River plumes can contain nutrients that stimulate phytoplankton blooms, but they may also contain sediment and organic matter that can color the water.
The different colors of blooms in different locations may be due to differences in the number and type of organisms. Turkish scientists analyzing phytoplankton types and abundance in the southern Black Sea in 1999 and 2000 identified nearly 150 different species of phytoplankton. Over-fertilization of the Black Sea from agricultural runoff and wastewater has changed the amount and types of phytoplankton that grow throughout the year. These changes likely have a cascading effect on the rest of the food web.
NASA image courtesy the rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.